Nine Months of Traveling Complete

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We just wrapped up nine months of traveling - that’s enough time to have a baby! Too bad we are having too much fun gallivanting around the world!

In the last month we have traveled to nine cities in five countries: Interlaken and Bern in Switzerland; Prague in the Czech Republic; Rüdesheim and Frankfurt in Germany; Paris, France; and Mumbai, Udiapur, and Jodhpur in India. As a bonus, we also spent six hours in King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, which is probably as close as we will ever get to visiting Saudi Arabia unless they start issuing tourist visas or we decide to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In lieu of our normal monthly post, here are some overall observations from our three months in Europe and our initial impressions of India.

Europe in Review

  • This is by far the most expensive place we’ve been to yet. The only country in South America that got close in price was Argentina.
  • Since it’s only a quick hop across the pond, this is where most of our friends and family came to visit.
  • It’s very easy to get around - by plane, train, bus, etc. - but it’s not necessarily cheap. Save some money by booking early, and watch out for hidden fees the cheap airlines might throw at you.
  • We generally found it very easy to communicate with locals regardless of language. Lots of people spoke English; even non-native English speakers would use it to communicate with each other. If English wasn’t an option, we found we were still able to get around by applying our basic understandings of Spanish, French, and German.
  • Many countries we visited do not use the Euro. In total, we used ten different currencies while in Europe.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted.
  • Hostels seemed very overpriced, especially for a couple. Airbnb is definitely the way to go in Europe.
  • Europe’s street food scene paled in comparison to South America’s. India and Southeast Asia better live up to the hype!
  • We hate to say it, but we got a little bored of the familiarities and ease of assimilation in Europe since it’s so similar to the US. We are excited to head out on an adventure to the culturally unknown again.

Initial Observations of India

Food

  • Apart from a few exceptions, we have no idea what we are ordering. We just point and hope for the best. It has all been good so far!
  • Many places do not serve alcohol, and several of our hostels did not allow any on premise.
  • Eating with only your right hand is harder than it looks. What do you do when you run out of naan?
  • Similar to South America, the water is not safe for drinking so it’s either bottled or filtered and UV treated.
  • Masala chai is everywhere, which is great because it is cheap and delicious.

Clothing

  • Traditional clothing is super colorful. It’s awesome!
  • It seems that only women wear traditional clothing. We’ve seen it on a few men, but most men dress in the “Western” style with pants and a button down shirt or t-shirt. Some women do as well, but from the few cities we’ve been in, traditional dress is the most common for women.
  • Despite the heat, shorts are found exclusively on children and sometimes on men; otherwise, you almost never see bare legs.

Cultural

  • It’s not uncommon for men to hold hands or drape their arms around one another while they are talking or spending time together.
  • As a result of bathroom hygiene, there are social rules regarding your left and right hands. For example, you should always greet someone with with your right hand as your left is seen as unclean and very rude.
  • We see a lot of cows, sheep, and goats in odd places - like the middle of the highway, city street corners, alley dumpsters, or sleeping behind a rickshaw.
  • Little kids love to yell “Hello!!” at us and get the biggest smiles when we say hi back.
  • Men (and apparently women) love their mustaches.
  • Handshakes from an Indian does not necessarily involve any amount of grip, just a limp hand.

Transportation

  • Drivers here are insane. Seriously. The worst we’ve seen this trip.
  • Indians are supposed to drive on the left side of the road. Then again, it seems like traffic laws are optional so anything goes!
  • We were surprised to find that Uber is very popular here, which is awesome because explaining where we want to go is half the battle. This also means we don’t have to haggle for cabs, and we still get a crazy cheap deal.
  • Getting from city to city can be complicated and very slow. In their defense, India has the largest and most complicated rail network in the world.
  • Addresses are sometimes in relation to a landmark rather than a specific point. Instead of a numbered building on a named street, it would say something like “Hotel White House, near Marway bus stand, Pushkar.”

Money

  • With very few exceptions, cash is the only accepted form of payment.
  • We are still getting a feel for how to get the best deals, but overall everything is much cheaper than Europe.
  • We have met so many people who are super nice and willing to show us around, but it’s difficult to filter out those people from the others who are just warming us up to ask for money or push us into buying something we don’t want.

Fast Facts

  • Favorite European City: Budapest, Hungary
  • Prettiest Scenery: The Swiss Alps
  • Stinkiest Cheese: Beer Cheese at U Medvídků in Prague
  • Longest Time Without Chipotle: 9 Months
  • Most Overpriced Guacamole: €2.75 at Chipotle in Frankfurt, Germany. Worth it!
  • Best Crepe: AuP’tit Grec in Paris, France

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